Mel Brooks on 'Blazing Saddles' at 40, Richard Pryor's Genius, and Keeping His Edge at 87 - The Moviefone Blog:
All the executives at Warner Bros. had seen the movie. And their head of domestic distribution, Leo Greenfield, God rest his soul, said, "Let's bury the movie. It's embarrassing. It's disgusting. We can't put the WB shield on this. Let's write off the $2 million budget. I've never done this before, but I beg you, let's bury this movie." And God bless him, John Calley, who's gone now too, said, "Let's have a screening."
Right from the first scene, they never stopped laughing. Me as the Jewish Indian, they went nuts. People were running up and down the aisles. Ted Ashley, who ran Warner Bros. at the time, took me into the manager's office, and he had a legal pad with notes, and he said, "Cut out the farting! That's out. Can't punch a horse. Can't hit an old lady! No sir! Can't use the N-word. Verboten! It's all out." He had 22 notes. And when he left, John Calley was with me, and I crumpled up the notes and threw them into the waste paper basket. We just went with the audience's reaction, which was stu-PEN-dous! The manager of the theater said he thought there was an earthquake, he'd never heard the place rock so much. And it went on to do exceedingly well."